Air travel has never been so convenient. With up to 3.6 billion people projected to be flying worldwide this year (IATA Airline Industry Forecast), it makes sense that airports are listening to consumer needs and wants. There are quite a few international and domestic airports making upgrades to amenities and services in order to make your trip more pleasant. Here are a few of our domestic favorites.
1. Portland International Airport (PDX)
Portland’s airport is clean, comfortable and easily navigable. Understated amenities are plentiful including water bottle refilling stations, a kid’s play area and charging stations galore. Portland is one of the last airports in the country to be fully carpeted, so if you’re particularly noise-sensitive you don’t have to worry about the sounds of rolling bags (though, be prepared for the dulcet tones of the maintenance vacuums if you’re there late night. This crazy, much beloved carpet at the airport has a social media presence to die for – so if you’re mad for all things social media, don’t forget to take a photo of your feet and post it to instagram with the #pdxcarpet, natch. 65K folks have already done so and with free WiFi, why not? You can also check out the carpet’s FaceBook page (we’re not kidding), where it has racked up 15K likes. It’s notable that you can also score munchies round the clock at the 24-hour Oregon Market.
2. Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)
Everything’s bigger in Texas and the DFW airport is no exception. You get free plush leather armchairs to lounge in gateside, but if that’s not enough space/napping room for you, there’s the opportunity to rent sleeping suites by the hour so you can catch some real zzzz’s. There’s also a yoga studio, showers (in the Club at DFW – available to all travelers for $35 at the door, space permitting), and even an hotel inside the airport (Grand Hyatt, Terminal D). Children’s play areas are in every terminal (inside the McDonalds in terminal D), and once again XPresSpa, has two locations for the resort-minded. DFW also has complimentary “Relax Zones” around Terminal D for the frugal set. The Zones are tricked out with ambient lighting, lounge seating and charging stations at every seat. One of these comfy oases has the added bonus of theatre seats for your viewing pleasure (10 screens available).
3. Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP)
Considering how often Minneapolis-St. Paul travelers get buffeted about by bad weather delays, it’s probably no accident that this Midwestern airport offers comfort and convenience in spades. WiFi is available for free up to 45 minutes, then a fee service kicks in. At $2.95 for the first 24 hours, it’s still a steal. Mobile charging stations are plentiful, and the food court in terminal 1 has charging counters where you can power up while chowing down. Families will appreciate the play areas and private rooms for nursing moms, and the massive Mall of America is just a 12-minute (3-stop) ride on the LRT (Light Rail Transit). If you’re really stuck for a while, you can shop, catch a movie or even visit the Nickelodeon Theme Park! If you’re really getting stir-crazy in a snowstorm, you can always take advantage of the 1.5-mile walking path around the perimeter or pop in for a mani-pedi at one of three XPresSpa locations in the airport.
4. San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Leave it to the City by the Bay to have some of the most innovative services around for air travelers. The gateway to Silicon Valley has a vested interest in offering convenience and comfort to its well-heeled and savvy customer base. Some of the services you’ll find at SFO include standard free WiFi (which – come on – should be free in every airport) luggage storage, showers (for a fee), reading & reflection rooms, and a yoga studio with loaner mats for those so inclined! Of course it’s a given that you’ll find quick charging stations for all of your mobile devices. For families there’s also 24-hr Children’s play areas and in Terminal 1, a museum a free aquarium. Don’t forget to take advantage of the self-guided educational tours of the airport. The littlest aviation buffs will love it – and the tour ends with a freebie at the info desks! Private rooms are available (look for signs) around the airport in all terminals for nursing moms. If that’s not enough, you can get your massage on with XPresSpa (30 minute sessions start at $65). Just as a bonus, look for the “Wag Brigade,” a troop of canine friends roaming the terminals and bringing cheer and adorableness to travelers.
5. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, USA (DTW)
Rounding out the top 5 is the hub for Delta (so if you fly a lot, you’ve likely been through DTW before). Free WiFi, 24-hour restaurants, a “Reflection Room” and spa are all amenities to take advantage of if you find yourself passing through or stuck in Detroit due to bad weather. If it’s the latter, you might be pleased to know that DTW has an extremely efficient and state-of-the-art snow clearing operation – they’ll get you on your way just as quickly as they can. There is a kid’s play area in McNamara Terminal and the most talked about airport tunnel in the country lives in DTW. It’s a 700-foot kaleidoscope connecting Concourse B/C with Concourse A and the McNamara Terminal. Don’t take our word for it, though. Just check it out for yourself (and the kids)!
So there you have it. Our choices for the top 5 airports for amenities and services. And there are more features on the horizon. Innovations in way-finding as well as apps to provide in-the-moment assistance are becoming more and more prevalent. We’ll share some more of this helpful information in an upcoming post. Until then, happy travels!